We have covered the assorted challenges and issues that waste management and recycling industries are facing in Australia and worldwide. In today’s blog – we ask could the latest trend of upcycling be the solution for our problems.

 

The major issue with recycling in Australia is that there are limited takers of recycled products in this country. This is due to the long term decline of manufacturing and heavy industry in Australian since the 1970s.

 

We have outsourced production of the items we consume to China and other countries – and become a nation of importers. We export primary products and services i.e. financial services, tourism etc.

 

A viable future for recycling in this country requires two changes:

 

One – more recycling facilities;and

 

Two – more takers of the recycled products.

 

This is where upcycling can come in useful.

 

What is upcycling?

 

According to Wikipedia:

 

“Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”

 

There are many beneficial uses of recycled materials or previously used materials – an example given is:

 

“To redefine the concept of recycling previously confined to trash categorization, groups of young designers have attempted to transform “trash” into potentially marketable products such as backpacks made of waste plastic bags and rugs created by reusing hides”.

 

What would be the most useful upcycling opportunities in Australia?

 

We see the greatest opportunity for upcycling in Australia as regards building products and utilisation in eco-buildings.

 

In recent blogs we have covered the concepts of urban mining – i.e. where people take valuable items from old buildings to reuse.

 

This of course could be special pieces or antiques to entire walls or floors. This can add special heritage aspects to new homes.

 

Upcycling ideas

 

At waster – we have a special interest in reducing plastic waste – and so we are very much in favour of using plastic waste in building projects.

 

We have covered these opportunities in detail from plastic roads to plastic building blocks.

 

Plastic roads in particular can use treat huge amounts of plastic waste and offer many benefits over traditional roads.

 

Conclusion:

 

The great thing about upcycling is that it can be on a small or large scale.

 

Upcycling can be using glass bottles (see also how recycled glass can be used to build roads) as nice candle holders, using old records as wall displays – or even using old timbers to make a modern apartment look more interesting.

 

All these initiatives will reduce waste ending up in landfill, reduce the pollution issue impacting our oceans and save people money.

 

This is more important than ever as some studies show that young people do not care about recycling!

 

See our blog on whether waste incineration has a future in Australia.

 

See the video on 35 ways to upcycle everyday items around you!